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Stopping the Horror of 'Reply All' 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the slip-of-the-thumb dept.
theodp writes "The WSJ's Elizabeth Bernstein reports that Reply All is still the button everyone loves to hate. 'This shouldn't still be happening,' Bernstein says of those heart-stopping moments (YouTube) when one realizes that he or she's hit 'reply all' and fired off a rant for all to see. 'After almost two decades of constant, grinding email use, we should all be too tech-savvy to keep making the same mortifying mistake, too careful to keep putting our relationships and careers on the line because of sloppiness.' Vendors have made some attempts to stop people from shooting themselves in the foot and perhaps even starting a Reply All email storm. Outlook allows users to elect to get a warning if they try to email to more than 50 people. Gmail offers an Undo Send button, which can be enabled by setting a delay in your out-bound emails, from 5-30 seconds, after which you're SOL. And AOL is considering showing faces, rather than just names, in the To field in a new email product. 'I wonder if the Reply All problem would occur if you saw 100 faces in the email,' AOL's Bill Wetherell says."
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Stopping the Horror of 'Reply All'

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  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:00PM (#35430802) Homepage Journal

    That's a nice email storm infographic they have. One time back in the 90s at Indiana University when people were mostly still using pine, a secretary at the College of Arts and Sciences sent out an email to several thousand students and put all their addresses in the two line. The headers themselves were a megabyte alone and it took a minute to open the message. Several people started replying to all and asking to be removed. It culminated with UCS terminating the mail in the queues and inboxes and suspending several user accounts. One guy replied saying something like "I just wanted everyone to know that Jim Smith takes it in the rear".

    • Re:Tales of old. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Whatsisname (891214) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:04PM (#35430858) Homepage

      People would occasionally do that in my University classes of several hundred. I couldn't resist a reply-all with a simple "what", or better yet, "hey josh, what did you get for problem 7", then the ensuing storm of people reply-all messages saying not to do that, etc.

      I love reply-all, I have gmail setup to use it by default. In my opinion it's a lot easier to avoid accidentally sending messages to everyone if your default behavior is to reply to everyone.

      • Re:Tales of old. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#35430944) Journal

        I like the solution in K-9 Mail (android app) better.

        The on screen menu has 'reply', you actually have to tap another button to get to 'reply-all'. It can be tedious, but it has prevented the reply-all issues in my case.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:10PM (#35430964) Journal

          damnit. That was supposed to go to Whatsisname, not all of Slashdot!

        • The solution is making people pay attention where they click, not "hiding buttons because users can't read", that same though is making popular software crappier every day.
          • Re:Tales of old. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:52PM (#35431656) Homepage Journal

            You need to understand that mistakes can and do happen, and it's a very simple UI fix to prevent. As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used, it shouldn't be as easy to click as the single reply button, something that is probably used 99% of the time instead of reply-all, that's simply poor user interface design to do so. There is no need to have one rarely needed button with possibly serious consequences directly adjacent to the more benign button that most people intend to click anyway.

            • Re:Tales of old. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Eevee (535658) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:07PM (#35431890)

              As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used

              There's a difference between "should only rarely be used" and "I rarely use." Just because it's not part of your way of doing business doesn't make it wrong. I find reply all essential for keeping a team of people together, particularly when there needs to be coordination of tasks.

              The real problem is people don't use BCC [wikipedia.org] more for mass distributions. If you don't have the addresses, you can't spam them back with a reply all.

            • by EvanED (569694)

              As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used...

              "I don't use it" doesn't mean "other people don't use it". I'd actually say that half the emails I send are reply all.

              • by hawguy (1600213)

                As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used...

                "I don't use it" doesn't mean "other people don't use it". I'd actually say that half the emails I send are reply all.

                Agreed, I make regular use of reply-all - great for keeping everyone on the team in the loop, especially when they are traveling and don't have regular access to the Sharepoint (yuck) team site.

                Anytime I send something and I want to be careful that only one recipient gets it, I always use forward, that way I'm less likely to make the reply-all mistake.

                Has worked for me so far and I don't have to hide the reply-all button.

            • by Kjella (173770)

              I very often need to have 2-3 people in the loop in addition to myself, I use "Reply to all" all the time. The problem is when you are on a huge mailing list like "Everyone in the company" and people use reply to all.

              I just realized the simple solution, which doesn't require rewriting any email applications. Simply require a confirmation, like when you sign up for anything. If you take a "Reply to all" on the list, it won't actually get sent to the list. Instead you get a mail back that "This mailing list g

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                If I am reading your post correctly, that doesn't help if it isn't a mailing list. So, it wouldn't help if three people are taking part in a discussion via direct email.

                How about having a limit of something like 5 or 10 addresses, and if it goes over that, all of the addresses get moved to the BCC field. This way, there are no extra steps for the user, the Reply To All will only get used for small groups since there won't be any large groups in the To field for ReplyToAll to reply to, and all email ge
            • As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used,

              Actually, I probably use it more than reply. It's very common in my workplace for four or five people to be involved in a email discussion, and people use reply-all to keep everybody aware of what's being said.

          • by eldepeche (854916)

            There is not one solution. Some people pay attention to everything and want a ton of tiny targets so that every task can be accomplished in one click. Other people want the 3 most common tasks instantly available, and the rest hidden behind a contextual menu so that deviation from routine forces a moment of thought before acting, decreasing the likelihood of making a mistake. Neither of those perspectives is wrong.

          • by digitig (1056110)
            Yes, and the button in an aircraft cockpit to fire a missile shouldn't have a little red flap over it, because the users should be looking at what buttons they press. Er...
          • by peragrin (659227)

            In my business it is often for the various layers to request quotes for parts. From the customer to the manufacturer there can be 3-6 different people involved. Most of them don't know what bcc, or reply to all are let alone how to use them.

            Or even customers requesting a quote from various suppliers. Most often one name is in the TO: field while the rest are BCC:(if they know how to use it, or CC: if they don't)

            while techies know the difference, I can't tell you how many times I have given a simple email

          • The solution is making people pay attention where they click, not "hiding buttons because users can't read", that same though is making popular software crappier every day.

            K-9 is an Android (i.e. cellphone) app.

            There's only but so much room for buttons on the small screen, so some typical buttons need to be moved to a menu. Reply To All is as good a choice as any, but I think this might actually be configurable.

          • This is slashdot. The UI is never wrong. It's always the user's fault.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by chameleon3 (801105)
        agreed. I use 'reply all' every time, mostly because it's imperative to not leave people out of important emails. If my boss was CCed on an email to me, say, if I don't CC him on the reply, it looks like I'm avoiding him or didn't want him to have this information.
        • Aside from what you stated, there's also that fact that if you Boss was CCed, NOT replying to all, would mean deliberately "kicking" him from the conversation. People should have common sense "does everyone need to know my response?" It's as simple as that.
        • My take on this is that if you don't Reply All but forget to send the message to someone, it's easy enough to forward the message to that person.

          If you do Reply All and send the message to someone to whom it shouldn't have been sent, it's much less easy to "unsend" the message to that person.

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        Personally, my favorite is to hit reply-all, pointing out the stupidity of putting everybody on the "to:" line, and instructing original sender to use BCC so that inanities like somebody hitting "reply-all" could torture everybody with something stupid, followed by a rant explaining how everybody receiving this message will SOON BE INUNDATED BY SPAM if ANY of the 4,000 recipients has been infected with a virus, which is most assuredly the case, so everybody knows who to thank for their new, unlimited supply

    • Re:Tales of old. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#35430950)

      Occasionally someone at my place of business somehow manages to send an email out to everyone in the department, or division, or even the whole company. Even on modern hardware the network will struggle if you send an email out to several hundreds or even thousands of recipients. But that wouldn't be so bad, what really finishes off the network are the several dozen people who feel the need to Reply All just to say "please remove me from this email last". Of course, after a dozen or so of those go out, you end up with two or three people sending a Reply All just to say "please stop sending your removal requests Reply All" The last one went out to 500 employees and I ended up with 40+ copies of the email in my inbox because of people being absolutely stupid.

      • Unsubscribe; stop;
      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        That's still nice an confined. I work for a multi-national article and the reply to all was to a spammer who somehow managed to send something to the Citrix users mailing list, pretty much everyone in the company. Naturally someone hit reply to all saying "I don't speak Russian" we had an email trail that ran for about a week including 80000 users (the timezone differences didn't help as when the Americans woke up it started anew) all saying "please remove me from your list".

        It only stopped after severa
      • Occasionally someone at my place of business somehow manages to send an email out to everyone in the department, or division, or even the whole company. Even on modern hardware the network will struggle if you send an email out to several hundreds or even thousands of recipients.

        I'm going to take a guess here that your place of business has its spam filter configured to run on each mail delivery, and on internal -> internal emails.

        Oops.

    • by anyGould (1295481) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#35432098)

      My favorite reply-to-all story (which is 100% true; I was there, I participated, and I got in trouble for it at the end).

      My high school had just got "email" (in the "you can email your teacher and other students" sense - they didn't trust us with outside links, or didn't trust the outside with us, one or the other). First Class, if you know the software. A few interesting facts:

      • You could see everyone who was online at the moment (and select the name(s) to send them an email).
      • When you recieved email, it made a nice loud "ping" (and since everything was internal, it was near instant from "send" to "ping").
      • From one of the walkways (that had computers for homework-use), you had a clear view/hearing to three different labs. (Just a quirk of the layout).
      • This was '94, and the first experience most of these kids had with email.

      Combine these facts, and you can mess with an entire school at once:

      1. Pull up the list of everyone online, select all, send an email saying "Hi!"

      2. Listen to the near-synchronous "ping" sound from three labs as they all receive the email.

      3. Wait about ten seconds - at least two people will hit reply-all and say "who is this?" or similar.

      4. Listen to a double-dose of "pings".

      Wash, rinse, repeat - our best day we managed to have a continual storm of pings as emails whizzed back and forth. It only stopped when they sent teachers to the labs to instruct everyone to hit delete and leave it. (Which lead to getting in trouble part - although I think we got in more trouble for bogging the server down than for disrupting three classes *shrug*.)

      The only better story I have is using Waterloo MacJanet's inability to delete a message without opening it first, combined with the ability to use alias to send an email to the same guy twenty times (as in, I hit send once, he gets twenty copies), to completely bury a friend's email account.

      • by Cinder6 (894572)

        Reminds me of when I was in high school. Net send--it was enabled. We were taking a final in the computer lab, and I finished early and discovered this. So, I did the only responsible thing and spoofed my name, did a 'net send *' with instructions on how to use it, and watched the mayhem ensue. Turns out the broadcasts were actually being sent campus-wide.

        I didn't get in trouble, but they obviously shut down net send later that day. Two years later, teachers were still telling the story.

        • We had a global-accessible share on the school server. All the school PCs had the VBScript interpreter enabled. I wrote a program that would constantly read a file (based on username) off the server, and display its contents. Another script could append to someone else's file. A chat program, basically. Based around *constant* network disk access.

          The network was down for a week, the server had to be replaced. I got in trouble. On the plus side, the punishment basically involved working with the new IT guy t

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Microsoft has one too that basically crippled their email for a few days - Bedlam DL3 they call it.

      http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2004/04/08/109626.aspx [msexchangeteam.com]

      It didn't help that Exchange had a bug in it that made things even worse.

  • by Lord Grey (463613) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:03PM (#35430840)

    Just think of it as an opportunity for Darwinism.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      It has its uses. I've been using it more in the last week than probably the rest of my life combined. I've been doing group work over email with a small handful of people and reply all is a god send for that. The big problem is that there isn't typically a sanity check for when the list of addresses grows longer or a message asking if you really want to send it to everybody. Plus the buttons are often times right next to each other meaning that you can easily click the wrong one if you're not careful.

    • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:25PM (#35431216) Journal

      That's like arguing we should be attracting dinosaur-killer meteor strikes to weed out the weak and unfit. A reply-all storm that size obliterates communication for the affected infrastructure for days. That's followed up by a fair bit of forensics, trying to backtrack the crapstorm to its initiating email, THEN followed by executing the guilty. Or not. If it's an executive secretary, it's probably just a mild talking-to.

      OTOH, I've forgotten how many lulz there are to be had trolling in such a mailstorm, if you can get away with it.

      Oh, BTW, epic fail DHS, but good work flushing out the Iranian spy*. Not that he was that good of a spy; if surreptitiously monitoring a DHS email list is equivalent to the Monty Python "How Not to be Seen [wikipedia.org] sketch, asking the group "'Is this being a joke?" while signing your email with your real-world credentials ("Amir Ferdosi Sazeman-e Sana'et-e Defa' Qom Iran") is the same as the guy at the beginning of the aforementioned sketch who stands up from behind cover when asked to (and gets shot).

      *Yeah, I know, he's probably not really a spy. But seriously, Homeland Security, why are you letting foreign nationals from adversary nations subscribe to your email lists? WTF?

  • At least that way the email addresses do not get spammed to everyone. Or maybe that should be an additional dialog:
    Do you want everyone to see all email addressees, do you want to hide email addresses with bcc, or do you want to cancel.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      There are plenty of cases where that is bad - collaboration via email, it support with multiple groups, etc. I prefer options that require an extra bit of effort for the reply all, that usually works well enough.

  • So don't do that.

    Corollary: Fire the ones who do it more than once.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Devil's advocate: Software should make it hard to do stupid or dangerous things without really intending to.

      That said, I find it to be an annoying tool more than anything else, because it makes it far far too easy to have lots of people hear discussions that really only need to involve 2 of people on the email. People don't seem to notice that the cost of CC'ing 10 people is as much as 2 minutes per person per email.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        No, and that's probably my biggest complaint about Windows. The engineers are telling me what I should be able to do, rather than making me raise my privileges to do whatever dangerous things I want to do. Admittedly that has changed and I believe that they finally got it more or less right with 7, but even up to about Vista they still hadn't gotten it right. And up to XP it was nigh impossible to get work done without being an admin account or doing some serious haxxoring of the system.

        Something like UAC i

      • I disagree. The level of difficulty is high enough: you have to make a specific effort to click reply-all instead of reply. If people are too lazy or stupid to put a few seconds' thought into it, that is their fault, not the UI's fault. There's no reason to penalize the people who will want to legitimately use reply-all (by making them expend extra effort) just for the failures of a few.
      • by dwillden (521345)
        Reply all is great when organizing some family activity. Rather than make sure you remembered to include everyone in your reply, you just hit reply all and everybody gets the email. There is a reason Reply all exists. Perhaps the real issue isn't reply all but rather people doing massive corporate emails using cc: instead of bcc: which prevents the reply all fiasco. But then again wasn't there a /. article not that long ago claiming that bcc: was dead and useless? Death of BCC [slashdot.org]

        So first we have a discus
  • by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:08PM (#35430922)

    Like if I'm sending "free books" or whatever to friends, I just click reply-all on an older email, trim out the 2-3 non relevant persons, and send off the email to all ~50 friends.

    I've been fortunate never to have a "reply all" mistake at work or other embarrassing place. If anything I tend to hit "reply" by mistake, when I meant to include "all" the participants.

    • "If anything I tend to hit "reply" by mistake, when I meant to include "all" the participants."

      This is me. Every time I've ever hit 'Reply All' it was immediately preceeded by clicking 'Reply' and shouting 'D'oh!'

    • by data2 (1382587) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:05PM (#35431852)

      Please stop doing this. Hitting reply-all on old emails destroys threading on pretty much all clients that support it. Your email client might have an address book and groups as an alternative.

      • >>>Hitting reply-all on old emails destroys threading on pretty much all clients that support it.

        (1) Don't care because it saves me typing ~50 emails.
        (2) Not if you change the subject. Then it starts a new thread.

        • by cras (91254) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:55PM (#35432632) Homepage

          >>>Hitting reply-all on old emails destroys threading on pretty much all clients that support it.

          (1) Don't care because it saves me typing ~50 emails.
          (2) Not if you change the subject. Then it starts a new thread.

          No it doesn't. If you hit reply button, it adds In-Reply-To: and/or References: headers, so your new message will still show up as belonging to an old thread. Changing the subject doesn't change this in any email clients I know of.

        • by praxis (19962) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:58PM (#35432680)

          Um, no. Threads are determined by other headers, not the subject, in any client worth their salt. Just because Outlook threads by subject, doesn't make it proper.

          • by LanMan04 (790429)

            Proper? Sounds like IMproper behavior to me, seeing as there's no reason to count an email as part of the same thread once the subject has changed (substantially, not just the addition of a few RE:RE:RE:).

            Either that or there should be an option to "break thread".

        • by colinnwn (677715)
          (1) You're not doing it right. You don't need to type 50 emails. You start 1 new message, and manually add the 50 recipients if you want to do it the hard way. Or create an email group of the 50 recipients and add only that group. Many email clients allow you to expand the group and delete individual recipients after that.

          (2) Depends on how the email client handles threading. From experience, some will, some won't. Gmail will even occasionally start a new thread when nothing has been changed and it should
        • >>>Hitting reply-all on old emails destroys threading on pretty much all clients that support it.

          (1) Don't care because it saves me typing ~50 emails.
          (2) Not if you change the subject. Then it starts a new thread.

          First, you may not care, but you're writing for the benefit of the addressee, not yourself.

          Second, changing the Subject doesn't do squat, modulo what some email clients do with that change. Threading is based on the References header.

          Third, your opinions are being posted to web forum. Is

      • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

        You don't have a clue.

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#35430960) Homepage Journal

    Let it be, guys.

    This is nothing more than social Darwinism. If you're dumb enough not only to send a nasty email, but to hit reply-all, you deserve what you get.

  • by wheeda (520016) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:12PM (#35431006)
    I love the reply all button. When vendors send advertising to everyone without out using BCC, I reply all. The vendors usually stop doing that. I've even replied all with contact information for competitors.
  • by alex_guy_CA (748887) <.moc.tdlefneohcs. .ta. .xela.> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:18PM (#35431098) Homepage
    The only reply in Facebook is "Reply all." You can't escape.

    Bastards.

  • Maybe the dumbfuck to sends the mass emails in the first place should learn to BCC
  • by GC (19160) <giles@coochey.net> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:24PM (#35431196)

    Our CEO at a company I used to work for sent out an all-employee mail detailing a salary freeze for all employees and voluntary redundancies. Moments later the CFO sent out an email to his accounts team detailing that their pay-rise would not be affected and that they should not consider redundancy... needless to say, the hapless git hit reply-all...

  • Low tech equivalents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:35PM (#35431400) Journal

    "Reply to all" is great for career-imperilling fun, but you can replicate the effect perfectly well with good old dead tree and snail-mail. Indeed, the closest thing I've had to a genuinely career-ending moment so far happened during my first year in work and was entirely down to a dead tree circulation mistake. Even now I still look back on it and cringe, even though I've since changed employers.

    I needed to send two documents to different recipients in the (large) organisation I worked in, both of whom were based in different buildings in different parts of London. One was a routine, dull minute of a meeting. The other was a sensitive personnel-related document (relating to a staff disciplinary matter - I was in HR at the time). I decided to deal with the former first. I printed it out, put it in an envelope and put it in the out-tray for our internal delivery service (which had multiple collections daily and moved dead tree around our sites within about 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic). I then went back to find a secure mail pouch for the the personnel letter - only to find that the piece of paper I still had on my desk was the meeting minute. I look around and see the delivery guy vanishing into the lift with all of the internal mail.

    Cue a 30 minute dash (and I do mean dash - literally running) across central London to beat the delivery van to our other site and intercept the envelope before the addressee could open it. I made it - by the skin of my teeth. Had I failed to, my career could have... well... turned out very differently - and not in a good sense. In a way, it was a good learning experience - I've been incredibly careful about what I put into envelopes ever since.

    But it just goes to show that you don't need fancy new-fangled modern technology in order to ruin your career with a mis-addressed mail.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Just imagine the LULZ that could be had by replacing the reply button in Outlook with a reply all button but keeping the original icon. Or by switching the two.

    • But it just goes to show that you don't need fancy new-fangled modern technology in order to ruin your career with a mis-addressed mail.

      Yep. I saw a guys naval career nearly end over a similar mistake - when we were doing some testing on sea trials a contractor needed to see a certain (unclassified) document, instead he was given the Secret version which he accidentally put in his brief case and took home... Fortunately the document was recovered, so the guy who made the mistake of handing over the wrong d

  • 'After almost two decades of constant, grinding email use, we should all be too tech-savvy to keep making the same mortifying mistake, too careful to keep putting our relationships and careers on the line because of sloppiness.'

    If Lamar Odom can still make bonehead mistakes and pass it to the opposition a few times a year after playing basketball for 20+ years, some schlub in an office can still mistakenly hit Reply All.

  • by satch89450 (186046) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:45PM (#35431550) Homepage

    After reading a couple of standard SlashDot "shoulda do this" comments, I pulled up my mail program, Thunderbird, and customized my toolbar so that "reply all" is to the right of the Thunderbird "search" bar. Far away from "reply". 15 seconds to do, 10 seconds to check that it was "sticky."

    Stop bellyaching. Start fixing.

    Oh, way, this is SlashDot...

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Some clients also allow you to delay the actual sending of the email for a few moments so you can pull it back if you notice an obvious mistake just after clicking send.

  • I keep my business-related conversations to my dept. account. I keep my university conversations to my university account. I keep my personal conversations in my gmail account or through instant messengers.

    Keep the spheres separate and life will be easier.

  • I wonder how long it would take your mail to download if there were 100 faces in the message. WHAT A BAD IDEA. thanks, AOL.

  • You make that the default to Reply-All.
  • Open Outlook, load up the Visual Basic Editor and put this into a new module:

    Public Sub ToggleReplyToAll()
    ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.Actions("Reply to All") = Not ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.Actions("Reply to All")
    End Sub

    Then open an email and add a button pointing to that macro. After that, if you want to disable "Reply to All" then press the button. To re-enable, press it again.

    Note! Only works on emails sent within same organisation. Only works on emails read on Microsoft Outlook. "Reply to All" is

  • I have much more trouble (and have been burnt by) the reply-to munging on some e-mail lists. What it does is rewrite the Reply-to to the mailing list address instead of the original sender, so that people with semi-broken clients without reply-to-list feature can just hit reply-to instead of having to type in the address of the mailing list on a reply.

  • become mature enough to stop pounding out angry rants?

  • PEBCAK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neurovish (315867) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:15PM (#35432012)

    Or you could try not being an asshole at work and keeping all of your correspondence in line with how you should present yourself. It is not the software vendor's fault if you are a moron or never evolved socially past middle school.

  • These are two different, and UNRELATED issues.

    Accidental "reply all" is just that, an accident. Muscle memory, inattention, etc...it's going to happen for a variety of reasons. It could be handled as simply as a reply all having an extra "are you sure" dialog that includes a count of how many people will be receiving it.

    reply all mailstorm is completely different...that is a result of INTENTIONAL behavior. people are INTENDING to reply to all, usually to show their idiocy by saying "stop replying t
  • Technology can't prevent stupidity. Either we remove the ability to reply all or we live with the consequences.
  • The reply-all command is the main, default way of replying.

    Reply-single is for the rare special case when a question is broadcast to a list of people, such that the answers are private or mutually uninteresting.

    Reply-all is critically important for most e-mails involving multiple people, because without it, you fragment the discussion. You the end up with the "what, you didn't get the e-mail???" type situations.

    More than 90% of all replies that I send on a daily basis require Reply-All, and I use it habitua

  • Don't make "Reply to all" easy to do or don't make it easy to mistake for "Reply", or both.

    I would suggest that overloading the Reply button would be the best approach. It would behave much like the Firefox "back" button: Click to reply, click and hold for a menu that includes "reply to all." Yes it's a little slower if reply to all is common for you, but that's what toolbar customization is for. You certainly will make no more mistakes.

    Alternatively, put "Reply to all" *FAR AWAY* from "Reply." Like on the

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      One of the best implementations I've seen was the one that Mulberry did. It has a single Reply button which actually understands the fields in the message such as Reply-To, brings up a dialog where you select which ones you want to send to, cc and bcc, where the default values where taken from what the headers said in the message.

  • when badly coded MTA software would get a reply-to-all with embedded email groups in it, misprocess the groups, and go into a exponentially-growing loop that brings down the server (happened in an office where I worked, Groupwise was the app). That'd show those reply-all types.

    At my current job tho, people hate being left out of the loop, so reply-alls are the norm, rather than the exception. "Think before typing" hasn't been repealed, people just act like it has.

  • I mean, I guess it happens that people accidentally reply-all... but I've never done it and I've never been on the receiving end of it. I've been using email since the mid-80's from a personal standpoint and I've had a number of corporate email accounts, both large and small. I can't recall a single instance of this happening. The reply-all storms that I have experienced were clearly intentional, with the people doing the reply-all knowing full well that is what they were doing.

    So I wonder if there reall

  • That all too brief time between your action and realization of said action.
  • Reply All isn't a problem. As others have mentioned it bcc, how do we teach the ignorant MFs about bcc, perhaps bcc should be the default instead of to and cc?

  • My life got a lot easier when I adopted the rule to never write anything in e-mail that I wouldn't want forwarded. Not only does it prevent the "reply all" problem, it also prevents the problem where the person I ranted to cc:'s the subject of the rant, either accidentally or as a way to stab me in the back.

    Also, one thing I discovered is that while, as a geek, I chuckle when someone sends me an e-mail ranting about some idiot who deserves it, other (non-geek) people often feel uncomfortable when they see i

  • I actually had to check in my mail client to see if the Reply and Reply All buttons are next to each other. They are, and I didn't even know it.

    Who (at least of the Slashdot posing crowd) doesn't do the equivalent of Command+R for reply or Command+Shift+R for Reply All and leaves the toolbar buttons alone?

  • if we prevent the stupid from killing themselves we will never advance as a species, and will always have to deal with stupid people

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

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